Friday, January 26, 2007

Don't Sweat the Infinitesimal Stuff.

So it's been kind of a lame week over at Generally, it really is a good site with lots of fabulous advice and, in particular, a wonderful place to get your query critiqued. But the last couple of weeks it had been a bit of a madhouse. A majorly irritating troll, about ten people asking about the New York Literary (Fake) Agency--about half of those *after* signing with them--and pointless arguments. Luckily, the forum is showing signs of getting back on track. However, one of the pointless arguments made me think a bit.

One of the websites I recommend to anyone who is looking for an agent is Fabulous database. And most of their advice is sound. However, they state in their query advice section that when addressing an agent the term "Dear" (as in Dear Ms. Reamer, for example) is inappropriate. That it should always be Attn: Ms. Reamer.

Personally, I thought that was some of the silliest advice I've ever read.

But someone had to post it up on WN and start an argument.

Now, I understand that you want your query to be business-like, and you want to make sure your manuscript is properly formatted. Sweating some of the small things puts you above the crowd and makes you look like a professional. But for the love of Pete, who cares if you put Dear or Attn:?

I'll tell you one person who doesn't care . . .

The agent!!!

They just want you to spell their name right and assign the correct gender. (Poor Mr. Ashley Grayson--no one ever gets his right.)

By all means, sweat the small stuff--but leave the infinitesimal stuff alone.

For Example . . . Small Stuff

Double space your manuscript
Number the pages and make a running header with your name at the very least, preferably with the title too.
Send a cover letter, no matter what. Partial/full/proposal, it doesn't matter, send a cover letter.
Thank the agent for their time time in your closing.
Include a SASE!

There are numerous others, but these are examples of details that are important.

Now . . . Infinitesimal Stuff

One space or two after periods.
Time New Roman or Courier New (unless requested)
Dear or Attn:
Whether to hand-write or type your address on your SASE (unless you handwriting is really that bad, and you know who you are.;))
20# or 24# paper

If you are getting a slew of rejections, trust me, it's not because you addressed the agent incorrectly on your query. Stop focusing on the teeny, weeny things--work on your writing! That's WAY more important.

However, on the whole salutation thing, Mya Bell wrote up a fun guide for how to address your query based on which genre you are writing. With her permission, here's the list.:)

romance - Darling Agent or Liebe Agent

gay fiction - Dahling Agent

gang fic - Yo, agent!

newbie author - Hey, uh, agent?

suspense - Psssst, agent ...

humor - Woo hoo! Agent

British Humor - Blimey, agent!

chic lit - Hey Girl! [Guy!]

Chinese history - Ah so, agent

vampire fiction - Good Eeeevening, agent

Victorian fiction - To whom do I owe this pleasure?

epic fantasy - My Precious

sea tales - What ho, agent!

--- Mya Bell

Gotta love Mya.:)



Anonymous said...

I enjoyed the agent salutations. They made me giggle...


Aprilynne Pike said...

Man, I'm getting spam . . .


Anissa said...

Love the agent salutations. Too funny!

I think people latch on to those things because they can be controlled. By the time you're ready to send out the queries, your manuscript is the best you can make it (hopefully). Whether someone thinks it is crap is beyond your control.

You're absolutely right. The writing is what's important.

trinathegranny said...

Made me smile!

ORION said...

Oh YESSSS!!!!!
This is a great post.
BTW put word verification in your comments section.
That will eliminate the spam.

Unknown said...

Yeah, but then I have to type in the word ver. And for some reason, I am totally disabled when it comes to word ver.

I'll stick with deleting the occasional spam for now.:)

Anissa said...

I'm pretty sure when I'm logged into my blog that I don't have to type the word verification to comment. It's only on other people's blogs. Just a thought.

And I don't think it's you. I type the word ver. very very carefully and 50% of the time have to redo it. Must be a blogger thing.

ORION said...

Yeah maprilynne I don't have to type it in for my own blog - just other people do.

Aprilynne Pike said...

Wow . . . that's something to think about. And sorry for posting under my other acount. Though clearly you snart people all figured it out.:)

Levi Nunnink said...

Awesome! I loved the different salutations.

I think amatures debate infinitesimal stuff all the time. It's easier to nitpick then simply write something good.

Anonymous said...

hee hee!!